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apprehensions respecting futurity, seldom meet with sympathetic tenderness. But how are we to account for the dereliction of human nature in this case ? Is not the anguish arising from a consciousness of moral turpitude equally pungent with that which the loss of terrestrial comforts may incidentally occasion ? Surely the cause of sorrow in the former as far exceeds the latter, as the perpetual favour of heaven transcends the momentary calamities of life !— The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity, but a wounded spirit who can bear?'
It may be said in answer to this inquiry, that pain of conscience bas relation to guilt, and is the effect of sin operating against a known rule prescribed for the regulation of moral conduct. In order therefore to sympathize with the contrite sufferer, we must have the same ideas respecting the equity of God's government, the detestable nature of sin, and the justice of that punishment with which it is connected. But natural men see things in a very different light. Their consciences are not under the authority of the law of God, no beauty is beheld in the divine precepts, nor do they, it is to be feared, really believe that the commission of moral evil will be attended with those dreadful consequences which the Scriptures constantly affirm. It is therefore impossible, in the very nature of the
that men with such ideas should feel for a soul tortured with guilt: the distress endured will be considered rather as chimerical than real, or at least as the effect of superstitious credulity, and as deserving raillery more than commiseration, or severe rebuke than serious expostulation.
Tbat men frequently act on this principle in giving advice to persons under religious impres
sions, needs no proof. What more common than to hear the disconsolate mourner exhorted to shun the haunts of solitude, to rouse from the torpor of dejection, to frequent the resorts of diversion, to look for tranquillity and pleasure in the circles of gaiety, where every eye sparkles with joy; where the ear is charmed with sprightly sallies of wit, where novelty gives perpetual delight, and the mind, released from the gloom of reflection, is restored to freedom and to happiness.
But these prescriptions are not adapted to the malady. They have been frequently adminis. tered, but without success. The throbs of guilt are not to be lulled by the sound of the tabret and the pipe, the harp or the viol; and the deluded patient who shall try the experiment, will find that he has not expelled, but increased his complaint; and the symptoms may perhaps be so rapid and so alarming, as to generate despair of relief instead of exciting hope of deliverance. For what is the natural tendency of such admonitions ? is it not saying, in effect, Be familiar with vice, or at least with vanity; blunt the edge of remorse by the accession of fresh guilt ; bope for quiet in the midst of tumult, and drown the clamours of conscience in obstreperous mer. riment !
Lavinia was the daughter of one of the first families in London. Her parents dying when she was young, left her to the care of an aunt, whose fortune she was to inherit, and who felt herself deeply interested in having her successor instructed in all the useful and polite accomplish, ments that endear society and embellish life. At an early period, Lavinia gave ample proof that the expectations formed of her capacity and her attainments were not likely to be disappointed : for she made such rapid progress in all the branches of female education, as rendered her the pattern of all who aspired to excellence.
The guardian of our young pupil, who was a woman of the first rank and fashion, could not long defer the happiness she expected to participate, when the wondering world should first witness the charms that were never beheld by her but with maternal fondness. Lavinia, who was elegant in her form and graceful in her manners, was therefore introduced early into all the polite circles, and received with the most flattering tokens of admiration. Every eye was struck with her beauty, and every tongue lavish in her praise. Nor was the marked attention paid her in all companies ungratefully received: for who can be deaf to the voice of praise ! or unwilling to believe that it may be heard without vanity, · and received as a just tribute to excellence, which, if hidden to ourselves and the vulgar, others, possessed of keen discernment, refined taste, and impartial judgment, have not only discovered, but kindly endeavoured to appreciate.
Few were the resorts of pleasure at which Lavinia was not the rival of her sex. She was surrounded by men of the first rank, each ambitious to attract her notice, and to bow obsequious to her will. The sprightly sallies of her wit were heard with rapture : her fascinating demeanour captivated every heart; and she received on every hand those tokens of respect, a moderate share of which would bave transported the hearts of thousands.
A solitary philosopher would imagine ladies born with an exemption from care and sorrow, lulled in perpetual quiet, and feasted with unmingled pleasure; for what can interrupt the
content of those, upon whom one age has la. boured after another to confer honours, and accumulate immunities ; those to whom rudeness is infamy, and insult is cowardice ; whose eye commands the brave, and whose smiles soften the severe ; whom the sailor travels to adorn, the soldier bleeds to defend, and the poet wears out life to celebrate ; who claim tribute from every art and science, and for whom all who approach them endeavour to multiply delights, without requiring from them any return but willingness to be pleased ?
Surely, among these favourites of nature, thus unacquainted with toil and danger, felicity must have fixed her residence; they must know only the changes of more vivid or more gentle joys; their life must always move either to the slow or sprightly melody of the lyre of gladness; they can never assemble but to pleasure, or retire but to peace.
Such would be the thoughts of every man who should hover at a distance round the world, and know it only by conjecture and speculation. But experience will soon discover how easily those are disgusted who have been made nice by plenty, and tender by indulgence. He will soon see to how many dangers power is exposed which has no other guard than youth and beauty, and how easily that tranquillity is molested which can only be soothed with the songs of flattery. It is impossible to supply wants as fast as an idle imagination may be able to form them, or to remove all inconveniences by which elegance, refined into impatience, may be offended. None are so hard to please as those whom satiety of pleasure makes weary of themselves; nor any so readily provoked as those who have been always courted with an emulation of civility.'
In the midst of affluence and splendour, of pleasure and of praise, Lavinia still found that happiness was absent. The hour of solitude could not be endured without painful anxiety. Some. thing seemed to be wanting which the world,
vith all its complaisance, had not yet conferred. New expedients were therefore daily invented to tranquillize the mind, and no means left untried to regain her wonted vivacity. But, alas! the felicity of which Lavinia was in pursuit, still eluded her eager grasp. Every day witnessed new scenes of vexation and disappointment. The wakeful hours of night were spent in tracing the causes of miscarriage ; in contriving means by which to preclude a recurrence of the same, or similar impediments, and in planning schemes to ensure felicity on the morrow. Inauspicious was the morning in which the breast of Lavinia was not transported with the recollection of some new engagement to give delight, of something novel to be seen; with the hope of sparkling in the dance, of shining at the opera or the playhouse, of making new conquests, and of receiving fresh tokens of inviolable attachment and
The return of night however but renewed disgust. Every amusement was insipid : the charms of novelty were forgotten: emptiness and vanity were stamped on every enjoyment: for whether at the toilet, the ball, the theatre, or the masquerade, Conscience would be heard — Lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God,' was reiterated in every place, and in accents so distinct, that the meaning could not be mistaken. Fruitless were all attempts to shun the admonitory intelligence, or to blunt the pain it frequently occasioned. Reflection produced remorse; the pleasures of the world satiety and aversion; the